As a mentee, you must be able to objectively evaluate your skills as well as accept constructive criticism from your mentor. This is the time to put on your strategic-thinking hat and exam your career goals. You need to know your strengths and weakness in order to know where a mentor can provide the most help. "Before you seek a mentor, figure out what your expectations are from the relationship and the areas you want to cover (job search, skills development, confidence building, etc.)," says Spano.
With that knowledge in hand, weigh your strengths and weaknesses against your company's goals. This should give you a pretty good idea of the qualities you are looking for in a mentor. For example, let's say your company makes most if it's sales via salespeople, but the company wants to build a stronger online marketplace to build a new revenue stream. Finding a mentor who deeply understands search engine marketing and optimization could help put you in the fast lane to responsibilities that take you someplace you never expected.
Where Can I Find a Mentor?
The first place to start is your HR department. Find out if it has a formal or informal mentoring program and let a representative know you are interested. There are other places to look as well, Spano says. "The places you can find mentors have improved greatly with the advent of social media. That said, the tried-and-true 'look around you' and networking with friends and colleagues is also a great way," says Spano.
If your company doesn't have a mentoring program and you have the desire to act as an agent of change, then go to your HR representative and tell him or her you'd like to help set up the program. HR's buy-in, like with most career programs, can be a make-it or break-it factor. The worst that can happen is they say no.
Another option: "Not every IT person knows what they want to do in 10 years but if you know what aspect of IT interests you, seek out someone who is in a role you aspire to within your company," says Cashman. Don't confine yourself to just the people you know.
A third option, if you can't find someone at your workplace or within your peer network, is to use professional networking sites to target people in your area who hold the job you are seeking. Social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook's Branchout are great places to identify mentors and groups with similar interests in your area. Many times simply identifying and asking the right person is all it takes. Again, the worst that can happen is they say no.
How to Get Things Rolling